The world as the American frontier: Racialized presidential war rhetoric

Zoe¨ Hess Carney, Mary E. Stuckey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We use the frontier myth and the rhetoric of the Indian Wars as a heuristic for analyzing four racial valences in presidential rhetoric on the War on Terror. First, the naming of the enemy in both instances racializes and conflates identities, amplifying a potential threat and justifying a similarly amplified reaction. Second, the war zone is characterized by shifting borders and alliances, suggesting a racialized political hierarchy in which the United States wars against nonwhite tribal leaders. Third, presidents distinguish between savagery and civilization in war practices such that technology, specifically contrasted to trickery, is a marker of whiteness. Fourth, in both wars, the disciplining of nonwhite bodies is justified as the means to spreading and preserving democracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-188
Number of pages26
JournalSouthern Communication Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 27 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication


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